The BBC has launched a new “Make it Digital” initiative.
The scheme will give a coding device to every child in year 7 across the UK – a total of 1 million devices – with the aim of inspiring a new generation to get creative with coding, programming and digital technology. And that’s just part of it.
The UK is going digital, from watches to televisions, but it’s facing a significant skills shortage along the way, with 1.4m digital professionals needed over the next five years. In response, the BBC has launched Make it Digital, a scheme to re-capture the spirit of the BBC Micro, which helped Britain get to grips with the first wave of personal computers in the 1980s.
The Beeb says it will “put digital creativity in the spotlight like never before” and help build the nation’s digital skills.
The scheme will include a major partnership to develop and give a ‘Micro Bit’ coding device to all year 7 children across the UK for free to inspire a future generation. There will also be a season of programmes and online activity involving the BBC’s biggest and best-loved brands, including Doctor Who, EastEnders, Radio 1, The One Show, Children in Need, BBC Weather and many more, including a documentary on Bletchley Park – and, intriguingly, a “new BBC Two drama based on Grand Theft Auto”.
The initiative will made possible through partnerships with around 50 major organisations across the UK, including Apps for Good, ARM, Barclays, British Computing Society, BT, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others. There will also be a range of formal education activities and events, including Bitesize, Live Lessons and School Report.
Alongside this, a Make it Digital Traineeship will create life-changing opportunities for up to 5,000 young unemployed people, the largest traineeship of its kind.
“This is exactly what the BBC is all about,” says Tony Hall, BBC Director-General, “bringing the industry together on an unprecedented scale and making a difference to millions. Just as we did with the BBC Micro in the 1980s, we want to inspire the digital visionaries of the future. Only the BBC can bring partners together to attempt something this ambitious, this important to Britain’s future on the world stage.”
“BBC Make it Digital could help digital creativity become as familiar and fundamental as writing, and I’m truly excited by what Britain, and future great Britons, can achieve.”
The announcement follows the recent launch of BBC Taster, a site designed to showcase new ideas and experimental formats from the BBC’s digital team, from a tour around a farm through the eyes of a cat to an interactive documentary hosted by Idris Elba.